Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Unread

That would make quite a good book or movie title in itself wouldn’t it, ‘The Unread’? Anyway, today’s Booking Through Thursday question was, as always, one to make you think. “Is there a book that you wish you could “unread”? One that you disliked so thoroughly you wish you could just forget that you ever read it?”

I have to say that there isn’t a single book that I feel like that about simply because I have a rule with books that I don’t like or enjoy, which I shall come to shortly. Not finishing a book used to absolutely kill me as until I was about twenty four I simply had to finish every book that I started. Maybe if you had asked the question of ‘The Unread’ back then I could have given you a list as long as my arm. What is quite amazing is that any books I didn’t like then have been wiped from my mind, maybe from the horror of them.

That may not necessarily be true though, as believe it or not it wasn’t really the book addict that I am today until a few years ago. I read a fair amount, don’t get me wrong, but I wasn’t as addicted as I am now and could in fact have a break from reading for a couple of weeks without blinking. I am trying to think what suddenly changed it and in all honesty I don’t have a clue but soon enough a book a month became a book a week, became three books a week. I also used to stick to authors I trusted or genre’s I was most comfortable with and so there probably were less rogue books or new subjects and authors that might go wrong if you know what I mean?

As my reading became more diverse and my book buying unstoppable things had to change, and thanks to my Granddad ‘Rule 80’ was recommended to me. When my Granddad got terminally ill with cancer I asked him if he had any regrets and he said ‘none… I cant even say bad books as if I didn’t like a book by page 80 I just stopped reading, life is too short’ and since then that’s what I have done. It was really tough at first as like I said I used to swear by the reading rule “if I started it I need to finish it” but with the amount of books I own and read it has made a huge difference and reading more enjoyable. I even applied the rule at my previous book group. I would always try and give everything a go (and actually only couldn’t finish two) and then would discuss why it was I didn’t like it rather than, like some members, simply say ‘hated it and had to force myself to read it’.

Which two books could I not complete at book group? Well that would be telling! I try really hard not to slate books on this blog. If I didn’t love it and couldn’t get past page 80 it’s unlikely that it would end up on my blog anyway as I only review (bar one or two occasions) books I have finished, as we all know everything can change in the second half of a book, or even in the last 30 pages. I also think that the time you read a book is really important as you have to be in the right frame of mind for a book, everything needs to be aligned. After an emotionally wrought or dark massive fantastic epic you might not be in the right mind for another of the same and so read something light next. There is also the fact that one reader’s trash is another readers treasure and some of you might hate a book I love and vice versa but that’s what makes it so interesting.


Sandy Nawrot said...

I can count on one hand how many books I haven't finished, and it killed me to set them aside. But your grandpa was right, life IS too short and there are too many fabulous books out there. I like his rule. I have trudged through many a book that I probably shouldn't have, but I always optimistically think that things will look up, or that my mood will change. Bottom line is that some books just suck!

Susan Whelan said...

What a great post. My selection for BTT was made based on a book that I read at a time when I was probably already to emotional to cope with the extra emotional impact of the book.

Wishing I could unread it isn't a criticism of the book as such, but more a regret for my bad timing. Unfortunately I had to read the book for a university course, so I didn't have the option of simply putting it away for another time.

I like the 80 rule too. Life is too short for bad literature.

Unknown said...

You are right - but I don't stick to a strict page limit. Sometimes I know I'm not going to get on with a book, so will stop after just a few pages, most of the time it is around page 50, but it is the ones where I get 200+ pages in and then stop that annoy me.

Do you review every book you finish, or if I see a book on your 'now reading' sidebar that then disappears does that mean you didn't finish it?

JoAnn said...

It took me 40 years to give myself permission not to finish every book I start!

Steph said...

What a timely topic! I recently put down a book after about 70 pages in, and will be blogging about it soon (that's one thing I do still do - write about unfinished books, as I feel I can still articulate what didn't work for me and that can be helpful to other readers. The exception to this is if I put down a book because it wasn't the right time for it, and I can see that and therefore want to try it again in the future. In that case, I'll hold off on writing about it). Like Jackie @ farmlanebooks, I don't really have a set page count before I'll abandon all hope, although I do tend to veer on the liberal pagecount end of things, simply because I do want to give every book a fairshake. Normally I aim for 50 pages, but it can be a heck of a lot more sometimes!

Missy B. said...

Great post! :)

Sometimes I feel like I give up too easily. But I just can't waste my precious reading time reading something that I am not enjoying.

Rule 80 rocks! I'll bet your Grandad was an awesome man.

Dot said...

What a brilliant rule, I think that I shall try that from now on. I have only recently stopped reading books that I am not enjoying, I always felt guilty but then I realised that I could be using the time to read something that I would enjoy!

Brooke from The Bluestocking Guide said...

Interesting rule. Generally once I start I finish, even if it is months later. Here is mine

Candy Schultz said...

I don't think I would wish to unread anything. Even the worst book could have a gem or two of beautiful prose.

I do wish I could unsee The Grudge film however. I believe I will have the creeps forever since that film.

Anonymous said...

I haven't encountered something that is irredeemably bad. Books that I want to "unread" are ones written by authors whose previous reads I have enjoyed. Sometimes they just have a bad day I guess. I would like to defy time and start over again with another book.

Savidge Reads said...

Sandy - I used to hate leaving books to one side but now I hate feeling like I am having my time wastedso I simply stop. I dont get rid of them though I let them hover around and see if they take my fancy again.

Susan - Firstly hello secondly emotion I agree is a huge factor with books undoubtedly, everything needs to be aligned perfectly.

Jackie - I do sometimes give up way before. However on the whole by page 80 most fo the important characters will have featured and story be underway so its a good judgement mark.

JoAnn - I know some people who will never give themselves the permission to stop so well done you.

Steph - Sometimes I will write about my experiences with a book and why it is maybe I cant read something or why I wasnt enjoying i, I just dont review them if that makes sense?

Savidge Reads said...

Missy - Page 80 is quite a good rule, some people might do less some more I am not saying everyone should do it though ha. I think you are spot on about reading time being precious and therefore if its not good just say no!

Dot - I was in exactly your position a few years ago, everytually you dont feel bad putting the book down.

Bluestocking _ I have to admit I admire that quality and wish I could but I just cant which is odd as it was completely the other way round originally.

Candy - Films... so, so, so many that I would love to Unsee... in fact I wont even get started.

Matt - I hadnt thought of it from that angle. I guess with our favourite authors we expect so, so much they cant live up to it bless them.